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4 ways nonprofits can save money in order to do more good

Volunteers for a nonprofit packing care packages.
Jannah Berkley
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Owning a nonprofit isn’t like running any other business. It’s a cyclical combination of pleasing donors, planning fundraisers, creating original programming, and finding (and keeping) passionate employees who care more about doing good than chasing a huge salary. Even though what you do is all about giving back, every penny you make still counts.

It’s not always easy saving money under these circumstances, but here are some clever ways your organization can. So you can focus a bit less on the financials and more on your mission.

#1 Go paperless

Not only is going paperless eco-friendly, it can also help your budget. You can shift all your printed invitations to emails, your flyers to social media ads, and your holiday cards to interactive e-greetings.

Do you pay vendors, freelancers and contractors by check? That adds up to an extra $1,600 per year on checkbooks, envelopes and stamps! You can easily switch to paying all your invoices and bills online for free and save that money for something important. Don’t worry—you don’t need to be tech savvy to go paperless. There are a ton of tools that are very easy to use and make the whole transition to digital very simple.

Of course, you know your donors best and some of them might still expect a paper invite in the mail or a hand-signed thank you. But they’re the exception. Everything else you can do online!

#2 Buy secondhand

Whether you’re setting up your first office or expanding your current one, you can do it all at a lower cost when you embrace pre-loved office furniture and hardware.

Facebook marketplace, Craigslist and other online forums are easy to use to compare prices and research what’s out there. Maybe you have a Goodwill or another secondhand shop in your area to browse in person. Also, many electronic shops offer discounts on refurbished computers and office equipment.

Not only does it cost less to buy used, it’s also better for the environment. And it allows you to support small businesses in your local community!

#3 Use credit card points

Did you know you can collect 1,000s of extra points each month if you pay all the bills with your company’s credit card? You might already use the card to pay for some expenses, but there are so many others you may not have even thought of. Wifi, phone, office space, venue rentals, catering, bookkeeping, advertising…the list goes on and on.

Not everyone takes card, but you can use bill pay software like Melio to use your card even where it’s not usually accepted. That way every month you can factor in all the extra points you’ll get by paying bills you have to pay anyway. Then you can use the rewards for travel, office materials, or cash back that goes right back into the organization.

#4 Get free help

These days, almost every company has unpaid interns. But just because you don’t have to pay them, doesn’t mean they don’t require precious resources. As a nonprofit, you need quality interns and volunteers who are motivated and self reliant. You don’t have a ton of employees with extra time to handhold and fix lazy mistakes.

Pay special attention to who you hire. Since they’re not getting a salary, they need to be getting something meaningful out of this time. You may find some incredible interns in their quarter-life crises who have experience in the private sector but are now looking for a save-the-world career shift. You could get some wonderful volunteers who have dedicated the last few years to raising their kids.

Yes, sometimes you will still need to hire that donor’s granddaughter who just finished high school. But if you get creative and come up with a TikTok, Instagram or YouTube project, something she can really feel ownership over, even she might surprise you.

More fundraising, less spending

These four tips should give you some wiggle room in your budget without having to make any drastic changes to your organization. It might be a few thousand dollars, but even a little extra funding can help you push out that next amazing project you have planned.

*This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and you should consult with a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.